Archive for January, 2016

Silhouettes: JaagaDNA/BBMP UFO (Under the FlyOver) event, Hebbal Flyover, 260116

January 27, 2016

I’d responded to a request from JaagaDNA (one of the 3 arms of


to photo-document the process of creating silhouettes so that citizens could claim the public space under the flyovers that dot our city.

Unfortunately, my acceptance was emailed to the wrong id, but when Archana of Jaaga contacted me and asked me if I could come on the 26th of January, I readily agreed.

Silhouettes were chosen by Jaaga as a way of representing both a particular citizen, and the city’s people, in general. “Jaaga wants to address urban issues through community art,” says Kamya Ramachandran, Director, JaagaDNA, one of the three arms of Jaaga .( Mansi Kashatria tells me that the other two are Start-ups and Study).

The process of making the silhouettes involved shining a bright light at a person, throwing a shadow on the pillars of the flyover. The outline would be defined by mask tape, and would later be filled in by paint: Black, white, blue, yellow, red, and green.

Having seen the work done at the Richmond Flyover, I set off for Hebbal early in the morning.

As I approached the flyover, I saw some of the silhouettes that had been done on Saturday, the 23rd January.


Mansi and Kamya of JaagaDNA were supervising the unloading of the art material, and these used mugs looked quite artistic! “We have so many ‘don’ts’ about traffic and crossing the road…so we thought we could ask the people about the ‘do’s’…what they’d like to do with public spaces,” remarks Kamya.


The painters, including Badri and Mahesh, mixed the paint, ready for use.

A wide variety of people held up messages that expressed their way of claiming the space.


The LGBT community, which had actively helped in the lighting and masking process on Saturday, had both dreams and practical requests for the space. Here, Lalitha and Archana ask for “pasumai” (Tamil for greenery).


Here, they ask for drinking water and a toilet to be provided.


The Commissioner himself had an ambitious dream for the space:


Here’s the Minister’s way of using the space:


Others who were not luminaries were an integral part of the event, too. Here’s the gentleman who was clearing up the used cups, because several people were, thoughtlessly, littering.


So many people painted in the spaces blocked on Saturday.


The police personnel put in a wish for cleanliness and security:


I used a paintbrush, too (and am wondering how to get the stains off my top!)


The Press came and interviewed Kamya about the event:


I even enjoyed the colour sense of some of the ladies who were painting:


People like Sarah from New York, associated with Jaaga, put their hands to work as well:


There was plenty of photography going on apart from my work. Unnikrishnan and his friend clicked each other while they painted:

And this young man was intrigued by the Jaaga camera being handled by Shayona.


There were a lot of group photographs as the event wound up.


This team from BBMP brought in and served coffee, tea and biscuits, till the end of the event.

Here’s one of the finished pillars, with four figures in silhouette in different colours:


However, given the fact that it is difficult, with the heavy flow of traffic, to access the space under the flyover, and also the dust and the noise, I do wonder if this public space can truly be utlized by the citizens of our city.

Yamini: All-night music festival at IIM Bangalore, 250116

January 25, 2016



It was very pleasant to sit on the lawns of Bangalore’s premier management institution. In the gathering dusk, people drifted in and took their seats. The stage was well-lit.




Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia started the evening off with sweet notes from his “bansuri”, with the lilting evening raga, Madhuvanti.




One can truly say that, with his flute, he literally breathes  his music! For the audience, also, the composition in raga Yaman that followed, and then a bhajan, breathed relaxation and serenity into them





When one of the impresarios came up on stage, he wisecracked that when pretty girls appear, trouble starts! He proved that his witty repartee is as good as his music, in a question-and-answer session with the audience.


I do have one request for IIMB and SPIC-MACAY. Everyone seems to be welcome at the event; I was not even asked for my pass. So could the whole process of wasting paper by printing out passes be dispensed with?

However, this is a very minor point, and I’d like to thank IIM-B for hosting this event year after year (this was the 13th year), and making it possible for music-lovers of south Bangalore to listen to fine melody in a beautiful, serene ambience.

My blogpost in Citizen Matters is


The poetry of Kannadasan (Ananda Jothi, 1963)

January 25, 2016

I am, personally, an agnostic. I do not know if there is a God, or not…and am of the opinion that I may never find out. But I enjoyed the lyrics of this song, with deep meaning, from the very old movie (1963) Ananda Jothi (Flame of Happiness…named after the names of the leading characters in the movie.)

Here are the lyrics in Tamizh:

கடவுள் இருக்கின்றான், அது கண்ணுக்கு தெரிகின்றதா ?
காற்றில் தவழுகின்ராய் , அது கண்ணுக்கு தெரிகின்றதா ?

இருளில் விழிக்கின்றாய், எதிரே இருப்பது தெரிகின்றதா ?
இசையை ரசிக்கின்றாய், இசையின் உருவம் வருகின்றதா ?
உள்ளத்தில் இருக்கும் உள்ளத்தின் வடிவம் வெளியே தெரிகின்றதா ?

புத்தன் மறைந்து விட்டான், அவன்தன் போதனை மறைகின்றதா ?
சத்தியம் தோற்றதுண்டா ? உலகில் தருமம் அழிந்ததுண்டா?
இதை சரித்திரம் முழுதும் படித்த பின்னாலும்
சஞ்சலம் வருகின்றதா ?

தேடிய்ம் கிடைக்காது, நீதி தெருவினில் இருக்காது
சாட்டைக்கு அடங்காது , நீதி சட்டத்தில் மயங்காது
காலத்தில்ச் தோண்றி , கைகளை நீட்டி
காக்கவும் தயங்காது….

கடவுள் இறுக்கின்றான் ….,
அது, கண்ணுக்கு தெரிகின்றதா ?

இருளில் விழிக்கின்றாய், எதிரே இருப்பது தெரிகின்றதா ?
இசையை ரசிக்கின்றாய், இசையின் உருவம் வருகின்றதா ?
உள்ளத்தில் இருக்கும் உள்ளத்தின் வடிவம் வெளியே தெரிகின்றதா ?

புத்தன் மறைந்து விட்டான், அவன்தன் போதனை மறைகின்றதா ?
சத்தியம் தோற்றதுண்டா ? உலகில் தருமம் அழிந்ததுண்டா?
இதை சரித்திரம் முழுதும் படித்த பின்னாலும்
சஞ்சலம் வருகின்றதா ?

தேடிய்ம் கிடைக்காது, நீதி தெருவினில் இருக்காது
சாட்டைக்கு அடங்காது , நீதி சட்டத்தில் மயங்காது
காலத்தில்ச் தோண்றி , கைகளை நீட்டி
காக்கவும் தயங்காது….

கடவுள் இறுக்கின்றான் ….

Here are the transliterated lyrics from another webpage:

M: kadavul irukkinraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
kaatril thavazhuginraay athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
kaatril thavazhuginraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
kadavul irukkinraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa…

M: irulil vizhikkinraai ethire iruppathu puriginrathaa
irulil vizhikkinraai ethire iruppathu puriginrathaa
isaiyai rasikkinraai isaiyin uruvam varuginrathaa
ullaththil irukkum ullaththin vadivam veliye theriginrathaa…
veliye theriginrathaa..
kadavul irukkinraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
kaatril thavazhuginraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
athu un kannukku theriginrathaa…

M: buththan marainthu vittaan avan than
bodhanai maraiginrathaa
buththan marainthu vittaan avan than
bodhanai maraiginrathaa
sathiyam thotradhundaa… ulagil
dharmam azhinthathundaa
ithai sariththiram muzhudhum padiththa pinnaalum
sanjchalam varuginrathaa…. sanjchalam varuginrathaa
kadavul irukkinraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa…

M: thediyum kidaikkaathu neethi theruvinil irukkaathu
thediyum kidaikkaathu neethi theruvinil irukkaathu
saattaikku adangaathu neethi sattaththil mayangaathu
kaalaththil thonri kaigalai neetti
kaakkavum thayangaathu….. kaakkavum thayangaathu
kadavul irukkinraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
kaatril thavazhuginraan athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
athu un kannukku theriginrathaa
kadavul irukkinraan…..kadavul irukkinraan….kadavul irukkinraan…

The translation as I see it:

God exists, but can you see Him?
You walk through the air, but can you see it?

You wake in the darkness, can you see what is before you?
You enjoy music, can you see its form?
The form of the soul that exists within you–can it be seen outside?

The Buddha has passed away, have his teachings passed away?
Has Truth been defeated? Has Dharma been destroyed in the world?
Even after reading of this in history, do you still have doubts?

It can’t be found by searching…Justice is not in the streets
It won’t be sudbdued by the whip; Justice will not be hoodwinked by Law
Appearing on time, Justice will extend a hand
And not hesitate to protect….

The music, the lovely visuals (especially of the shadows in monochrome in the last stanza)…all of it goes to make a very memorable song, about what can be know, and what cannot.

Shivanahalli trip, 230116

January 23, 2016


Email to the bngbirds egroup:

Just 6 of us, Mallika, Prem, Raghavendra, Snehasis, Soham and I,
decided to take a late morning trip to Shivanahalli. We actually
started past 9am, and were sure that we would enjoy whatever we saw
and observed.

Well, certainly the Banyan tree at the entrance to the apartment
building where I waited for the others, was a delight. I sat there,
quite riveted, as the red figs attracted White-cheeked and Coppersmith
Barbets, Asian Koels, Jungle Mynas


and Common Mynahs, some warblers at the top of the tree where I could barely see them, a couple of Cinerous Tits, several Rose-ringed Parakeets (some of whom were romancing each
other in true Bollywood fashion!)


…and then a flock of Rosy Starlings flew in, only to be promptly chased out by their orange-eyed, and blue-eyed cousins. Could anyone ask for a better “opening over” for a
morning? This was on the arterial Bannerghatta Road, and though I was rather dusty by the time I met my friends, I was pretty happy!

We had heard that the Ramakrishna Ashram at Shivanahalli was not open for birding any more, and wanted to see if this were really so.

Any group that I belong to takes its vittles seriously, and we stopped at Bannerghatta Circle at an “outstanding” darshini (meaning one has to stand outside and eat the food!).This was one occasion when the white-breasted iddlies, rufous sambar, speckled chutney, and chestnut
vadais were not our closing, but our opening, sightings!


We drove through the Reserve Forest and the Ragihalli area, and though we didn’t see too many birds, except ones like the Jerdon’s Bushlark:


and a Black-winged Kite:


The scenery we were driving through was quite beaufiul.. The mild morning sunshine and the slight nip in the air made the warmth of our camaraderie all the better.

We were blocked for a while at Ragihalli village, where the road isbeing widened; a van was unloading material.


However, we finally crossed, and wound along the beautiful valleys of the Bannerghatta
forest, to the Ashram.

There, we found Swamiji very busy overseeing some earth excavation and clearance personally (hands on is always his style.) He told us that at 11 am, we could not go birding, but luckily for us, Sreeja and her family also arrived at the same time. She’d emailed the Ashram a weekago, so Swamiji gave us all permission to bird for just a bit beyond
the Ashram back gate (up to his house and back.)


As we ambled along, enjoying the fresh air and the planted series of chandan, jamun, jackfruit and other trees, several interesting birdsdid make their appearance. A Puff-throated Babbler had us scrabbling to see it better; an Orang-headed Thrush teased us with a quick darshan, and at two different places, an Asian (ooops, sorry, Indian) Paradise Flycatcher delighted us with its half-rufous, half-white tail, flaunted ribbon-like as it flew. As we returned, mindful of our word given to Swamiji, a Blue-Bearded Bee-eater (or the 3-B eater!) sat on top of a tree, allowing us to get a good look…but only silhouette shots.


The calls of Gray Francolins also accompanied us as we returned to the gate.

A lot of construction is now going on in the Ashram, and the trees towards the front gate have been thinned down.


We missed seeing the usual Tickell’s Blue and Asian Brown Flycatchers that were once
fixtures there. The sound of the earth-moving equipment was,probably, too loud for them to stay around.

A Shikra was the only other raptor we saw, but a beautiful Praying Mantis (I need a more precise id)


on the steps to the Sharada Mandir kept us all clicking away, proving that the new mobile phones truly produce stunning macro images. A few butterflies on the ramble also kept us

Plain Tiger:


Common Sailer:


Pea Blue:




Some beautiful flowers and plants caught my eye, too.


Kalanchoe pinnata


Very happy with the mornings spent amidst the greenery of
Bannerghatta, we returned home, trying to avoid the usual heavy
traffic on the arterial roads by taking the side roads…and hoping
that they were not dug up!

So folks..even if you get up late, it’s not too late for go for a
birding or nature outing in this gentle weather…you’ll have a great
time! We were also celebrating the new vehicle that one of us had
bought, and it was with a lot of joy that we spent the morning

My photos are on my FB album at

Oh, yes, I need to describe my visit to Kaiga for the Bird Marathon, and the side trip to Kulgi to meet people at the Karnataka Bird Festival…both very well-attended events, which took place at the same time…and the Bangalore bird race last Sunday too. I’ve been
rather caught up and have not been able to post about them on time…but will do so!

Let me close with two beauties now:




January 22, 2016

We went to attend the Bird Marathon (so called because the total length of all the transects put together is the same as that of a marathon) at Kaiga.


is the site of one of India’s nuclear reactors, adding controversial, but much-needed, energy, to the national grid.

The Environmental Stewardship Program that Kaiga Generating Station (KGS) runs is part of an effort to prove that nuclear energy (with the proviso that it is well-managed and contained) is clean and does not pollute the environment,

On the way back from the marathon, I clicked this picture of two more kinds of energy, which we are trying to harness.


Alas, solar power in India, as well as wind power, remain rather expensive and not really viable solutions for the average householder.

I do wonder how we are going to solve our increasingly urgent power demands in the years ahead….

How to organize a group for the Bird Race (170116)

January 18, 2016

Every year, I feel touched and happy that many people would like to go with me, as a single group, to take part in the annual Bangalore Bird “Race”. Last year, we were 34, this year, the number was less, but still large enough to merit a lot of planning.

Since it’s a day-long outing, the route has to be carefully planned, and the criteria are quite a few.

There are the obvious ones like distance to be covered, how to do the route without going too far afield or backtracking, and at what time to break off the birding activity so that teams can come to the evening venue without too much of traffic snarls (the venue is always held in the middle of the city, as birders come from all the quadrants.)

Water bodies are essential as they are good spots to sight a larger number of bird species. But many lakes in Bangalore now charge unpleasant amounts of money for cameras (they seem to overlook the fact that every person with a mobile phone now carries a pretty good camera) after about 8am or so. When it’s a large group, this will result in a needless amount being spent.

Some recce trips establish if a water body, or a birding area, has the likelihood of being productive in terms of bird sightings.

The route has to be timed, and the places where a large group can stop for chai, or sit and have breakfast, have to be planned. Similarly, a place where such a group can be served lunch without too much of delay has to be identified and worked into the plan so that the timing is not too off.

Generally unavoidable delays have to be budgeted for and put into the mix too.

Toilet breaks, especially for ladies and children, have to be thought about and worked out.

The time at each birding spot has to be planned loosely, so that the group keeps to a reasonable schedule. At the same time, there has to be enough flexibility to adopt changes (on the 17th, when we realized that we might not add too many species at the Valley School area, the plan was changed and we went to Harohalli lake instead…or at least, some of us did, see below.)

People who join in at the last moment, may suddenly take unilateral decisions to go to an unknown place (after a group decision has been made for another spot) and go off without informing the right person. This results in others waiting and wasting a lot of time, instead of birding.

No matter how much a single meeting point is decided upon (to avoid complications during the start) there will be people who will not adhere to this. Multiple pick up points always result in delays, so this, too, has to be budgeted for.

One has to be careful not to tread on sensitive corns…to keep the right combination of folks together in the cars, and not put in one vehicle, people who are less than comfortable with each other. Seating in cars must be allocated, and the number of cars must be minimized to lessen the carbon “wheelprint”. Special needs…diabetics, restricted diets…must be kept in mind.

Sudden situations may develop where some people have to go off. This too, cannot be helped and the situation must be dealt with as it arises.

One has to remind folks that the Bird Race birding is different from other days. Usually, we take as much time as we want to observe, document and photograph the birds; but on this day, it’s “tick-and-move-on”. For newbies, it’s a great way to see many birds in one day, and once in a while, this kind of birding is also interesting and fun…but it can’t be done often, and by that very reason, everyone tends to tarry at the site of an interesting sighting.

And increasingly, I am finding that people would rather bird longer, than wind up just to fight traffic to get to the evening gathering. Since bird counts can now be sent over mobile apps, it seems better logistically to bird until sundown, and then go home. But this does not take into account the joy of meeting other participants, and like-minded people, face-to-face, of cheering on the children who have participated, and enjoying a pleasant evening of simple camaraderie.

But if all this is done…it’s enormous fun to go in a group, exclaim over this or that bird, to ensure that everyone sees as many birds as possible, exchange great food and great jokes….and generally, have a wonderful time through the day!

Mushrooms: Nature’s “umbrellas”

January 6, 2016

Right now, the rains are a distant memory, but it wasn’t long ago that we felt our city was just soaking in water…and though we didn’t have the major deluge that Chennai had, we too had our share of dampness and moisture.

There are some organisms that thrive in this moist, humid environment, and though they have a short life, they still look beautiful, and intriguiging, when they appear.

“mushrooms” (which are a form of fungi…and in fact, the fruiting body of these organisms)

Mushrooms come in varieties called “bolete”, “puffball”, “stinkhorn”, and “morel”, and gilled mushrooms themselves are often called “agarics”. However, we can give them our own
fancy names, too! Here are some, that I clicked during the rains recently.

Here are some large mushrooms that remind me of that famous Kannada dish, “Thatte iddli”!


The picture of these two longish mushrooms was beautiful, too…


Some mushrooms, like this one, are called “toadstools”; earlier, they used to refer to poisonous ones. It’s easy to imagine amphibians sitting on these and croaking out their rain songs!


Others remind me of small umbrellas….


Right in the middle of the wet greenery, they..well…mushroom (yes, their often sudden appearance has given rise to the verb) suddenly, overnight!


Mushrooms come in many colours, and I particularly liked this orange one:


Mushrooms reproduce through spores, which form on the underside of the “umbrellas”.


Many mushrooms are supposed to be edible, and very nutritious, too, but I wouldn’t advocate plucking any for the kitchen without knowing more about them! Some can violently disagree with our digestive systems too.


Here’s a beautiful image taken by my friend Vandana Murthy, on 23rd November, 2015:

vndna mshrm 231115//

So…looking down as one walks on the grass, or on the trunks of trees, is as much fun in the rains as it can be at other times! Do look at these “fairies’ umbrellas” when next the weather is damp and gloomy, and they will cheer you up!